Bahamian bank worker denied access to organise

Theresa MortimerLast month we reported on the Bahamian bank workers who were threatening strike rather than continue to work under a sewer pipe.  Since then President of the Bahamas Financial Services Union, Theresa Mortimer, who was leading the protest has been issued a threatening letter from the bank. The letter informed her that actions she had taken on behalf of the union were against the bank’s policy and that she is “not authorized to enter Bank premises to conduct union business or to meet with Bank employees without written permission from the Bank”.  It then threatened “significant action” if she did not adhere.

This letter appears to the Gossip to be a breach of the internationally recognised human right to organise collectively on your workplace. (Article 11 of one of the International Labour Organisation’s most fundamental conventions, Convention (No. 87) concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize provides ‘that workers and employers may exercise freely the right to organise’).  In other words it is breach of human rights for banks to prevent union members and officials from being able to discuss joining a union with other workers.

Other workers’ unions in the Bahamas are responding strongly to the threat, demanding that Mortimer’s bank, FirstCaribbean Bank, rescind the letter:

“If you do not rescind this letter we will cause every trade union to withdraw their funds from FirstCaribbean Bank and put it in Commonwealth Bank or in a different bank,” said Robert Farquharson, the BPSU’s General Secretary, at a press conference.

Unions are also threatening strike and legal action.

BFSU Treasurer Denise Evans, says that the sewer system which caused all the industrial unhappiness at the bank’s Shirley Street headquarters had “backed up again.”

Footnote: Bahamas has ratified ILO Convention 87 but embarrassingly New Zealand has not, despite it being considered by human rights organisations to be one of the most fundamental workers’ rights.

(thanks to the BFSU for the photo)

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